In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “War is when the government tells you who the bad guy is. Revolution is when you decide it for yourself.”
The title itself speaks not but the quote speaks volumes. But if you do side with ‘actions speak better than word’, then the current in some African countries especially Ghana and Nigeria does speak louder than the words of Benjamin Franklin. War is mostly between states, governments, populations, or paramilitary groups such as mercenaries, insurgents and militias is an intense armed conflict. In general, extreme violence, hostility, devastation, and mortality are defined. Revolution is the sudden shifts in political power and political organization, usually due to perceived injustice or political incompetence, occur when the populace revolts against the government.
Partisan vigilantism isn’t a new aspect of politics in Ghana. It has its origins in the independence movement of the nation from British colonial rule, some researchers claim. Ghana’s independence leader and first president, the Convention People’s Party, headed by Kwame Nkrumah, and the National Liberation Movement, were engaged in fierce political struggles about whether Ghana should be a federal or unitary state. Aggressive vigilante action by elements on both sides was part of the war.
There are young people who feel like their needs are not reflected by the state. They often feel helpless because they do not have enough resources to change their situation. Such grievances make them susceptible to indoctrination by older generations who provide ideological guidance and justification for their acts to the young recruits, mainly politicians. They engage in violence associated activities just because the government told them to. This explains the first part of Franklin’s quote, ‘War is when the government tells you who the bad guy is’.
#EndSARS is a struggle Nigerians have fought for years, starting as a call to dismantle the country’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) unit. But beyond echoing the #BlackLivesMatter protests, since it is a movement across the entire youth spectrum, it is relevant on its own merit. And it’s not only a political revolt but also a social rebellion. Moved by progressive empathy, they have frank debates about and make clear steps to accept the rights of disabilities and tribalism; setting themselves apart from the previous illiberal generations.
There is a new-found spirit of patriotism, despite the pain and sorrow over the recent killings, there is a new-found spirit of patriotism that binds them to their vision for a better Nigeria. And that spirit is not confined to the country’s boundaries. Youth in Nigeria do not back up their restoration hopes, even in the face of death and censorship. #EndSARS opposes ideas of unnecessary hierarchy by opting to run a strategic, decentralized movement. They fail to change their processes. Their revolting is a life demand, an opportunity to reset Nigeria’s nation. This brings to mind the second part of Benjamin’s quote ‘Revolution is when you decide it for yourself’. That is, deciding for yourself who is the bad guy.
Being at war or revolting is a choice. States can decide to be told who is the enemy and end up fighting a war that is not worth it, or we can identify by our self who the enemy is and fight against them.